REVIEW: Through my eyes
Mario Ermer 1942-2008 A Retrospective 'Through my eyes'
An exhibition of past works by the pioneering Newcastle artist, the late Mario Ermer, is currently on display at the Newcastle Art Space from 15th March to 1st April 2012. Mario Ermer immigrated from Fiume, Italy (now Croatia) to Australia when he was just 9 years old in 1951. His family moving between migrant camps until finally settling in Newcastle in 1954. An archetypical Novocastrian, the young Ermer took up an apprenticeship as a boilermaker with the Newcastle steelworks after leaving Broadmeadow High School, working as a boilermaker until he retired many years later. Ermer was a dedicated and mainly self-taught artist who painted in the evenings and on weekends. He won many provincial awards during his long artistic career and, in 1974, was a finalist in the Art Gallery of NSW's prestigious Wynne Prize. Ermer's love for the City of Newcastle (it's city and industrial landscapes), the Australian bush and the Aussie beach culture is clearly demonstrated throughout his prolific body of work. This extensive collection contains some of Ermer's paintings from 1956 through to 2005 including works inspired by his European travels.
Now I have to confess to having no formal qualifications whatsoever in art appreciation so I will not embarrass myself or try to fool you dear reader by rambling on with a foolhardy attempt at an artistic critique. I, as an art lover however, (or maybe that should read talent-envier!?) do know what I like and I can safely say that I loved this collection. I found the obvious progression of his style and technique throughout the years delightful. From the industrial landscapes of the Number 1 Coal Loader and Lovett's Slipway, through to the impressive cityscape of Newcastle Harbour and Church Street, to the bright and cheerful beachside scenes at Nobbys and Merewether Beaches I was reminded again and again of our wonderful patch of Australiana. However, while the artist's love of Newcastle is palpable, to limit his talent to just my feelings of nostalgia would be to do this artist's talent a disservice. Regardless of the subject of Ermer's work, be it the painting of the Bridge at Mostar, Croatia in 1983 (before it was bombed to oblivion in 1993 and rebuilt again) to his still-life painting Gardenias in 1997, his natural ability and his dedication to his craft is to be admired.
This exhibition will be the last opportunity for the general public to view the remainder of Mario Ermer's life's work and I strongly encourage everyone with a passion for fine art to take this opportunity for some retrospection through not only the eyes but also the heart of an artist whose talent will inspire you.
Exhibition runs at Newcastle Art Space from 15th March to 1st April 2012.
Reviewed by: Michelle Adams on Saturday 17th March 2012 for culturehunter.org
Photography by: Peter Kutas
Attributions to: Ann Ermer & Helen Nelson